Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Teen's Guide to Relaxing and Battling Stress

There are plenty of things that put a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat's on my face, whose value is priceless and always appreciated whenever needed. Despite my tendency to moan (or so the most oh-so-irritating brother in the world believes), smiling is well within my ability - and something which I ought to rely on more often, or at least for the sake of avoiding wrinkles!

Rolling onto the floor in manic laughter, snorting like a grumpy pig and flashing my pearly whites in an ecstatic grin are among the things which contribute to happiness and will be needed in more quantities than usual as I hit an important stage in my education. You wouldn't automatically think that giggling like an amused four year old would be the wisest of all ideas during a revision session, but any break from stress and hard work should be savoured!

Relief is what I will be seeking over the next few years, a source of which I tend to find by relaxing. Of course, I might not be qualified in the field of mental health - which is directly linked to stress - yet some advice comes naturally to not only myself, but many others too.

First of all, what makes you relax? A lot of answers to this question would be along the lines of watching your favourite TV programmes (though I'm not entirely sure whether Revenge winds me down up or pumps up the adrenaline), reading a book and taking an extremely long bath which prevents the whole household from entering it for the entire evening. Other people find solace in throwing themselves into an activity which blocks out all possible distractions - indeed, I'm so absorbed into what I'm doing whilst cooking that I don't pay any attention whatsoever to conversations, noises or even my surroundings. Anyway, this question is a surefire case of each to their own: if one method works for somebody, fine on them!

Once I'm thrown back into the jungle whose title is better known as school life tomorrow, my six weeks of summer holidays will be brought to an abrupt halt. In this time, I've become more acquainted to relaxation than revision (despite cramming an exam's worth of coursework) and, however important that studying is, I'm desperate to not lose touch with the skill of relaxing, because it could be my saviour when the going truly gets tough. At long last, I now fully understand the meaning of working hard and playing hard, because both things are equally important. OK, a miniscule part of me leans more towards the 'working' side because hard work is the only route you can take in order to achieve success, but having fun provides a break from full-on drama, which will leave you feeling refreshed by the time that you return to work. If I clutch onto what this summer has taught me, perhaps I'll be playing on both sides - working and playing - within no time!

In the meantime, I wish to share several things which, however I'm feeling or whatever I've been doing, are guaranteed to ease my nerves and loosen me up a bit. However, there is one precious rule which, regardless of the circumstances, should never be forgotten: these tips better not be forgotten from the moment I walk out the door tomorrow morning! As you would expect, my mind will be wandering off course for the first few days - hopefully not extending into weeks, if you understand that out-of-body feeling - so relaxing might be on the bottom of my list, but I'll make an effort to reserve some time for what I want to do. After all, it's my life - and why should it be constantly wasted on the activities that neither contribute to nor provide happiness?

1. Transport yourself to another world.
Ideally, I'd like to be referring to trains and aeroplanes, but the cost of tickets would burn a hole in my pockets (if my trousers even have any). Instead, I'm talking about music, books, DVDs and the literally the entire entertainment section on Amazon - while probably not quite as thrilling as sunbathing on a Hawaiian beach, the money that you save is priceless!
If it wasn't for life's daily activities, my head would be permanently stuck in a book. Wait, let me rephrase that sentence. My head would be glued to a book, preferably a black-covered vampire novel or indie teen tale by cult authors. As for music, I seriously need to untangle and carry my earphones around more often because music is the ultimate pick-me-up whilst walking around the block to the bus stop on a cold Monday morning. And TV? Just about the perfect end to a highly exhausting day; bedtime would be a drag without a snippet of The Simpsons making me have a fit of uncontrollable laughter (which then keeps me awake until the early hours in bed).
As great as reality can often be, we owe it to ourselves to inject a bit of fantasy into our lives. Otherwise, when would our imaginations ever get a chance to run wild, no longer chained up from relishing freedom? From time to time, I walk into the living room - to read, watch TV or try out my new music app - with my shoulders low and a face looking like it has just sucked a lemon, then I leave it a while later, an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders and a smile creeping on my lips.
It's a trick that works for me - and is an added benefit once hectic drama makes its grand return.

2. Take up a new activity.
Now I'm living up to my advice by actually taking it on board because, several hours after school finishes tomorrow, I'll be attending my very first Zumba class. Why? After envying my brother who has developed an athletic physique from playing in a football team and eats ice cream, I thought that I ought to give a physical activity a go. The P.E. lessons at school typically involve my flicking on persistent bugs and avoiding the full-on glare of the sun - hardly physical at all!
Besides, I crave to have a break from homework, the events of the day and the day ahead of me by the time I get home from school. And preparing for an activity which is likely to make me sweat buckets would be provide an ideal distraction - whilst burning off last week's McFlurry!
Believe me, trying something new - especially what you've wanted to do for ages - will give you something to look forward to when revision is about to make you scream out loud. In fact, I'll probably leave all my screams until the Zumba class, as screaming in agony is very likely!

3. Play.
There are many things that we can play with, such as a football or anything in the shape of a ball, but I'm just only talking about the toys you sold on eBay years ago. Even as teenagers, we still possess the instinct to play, a meaning of which is often mixed up with having a fun - and when you think about it, the two things are virtually the same!
Whereas my brother plays football up to three times a week, I prefer to play a game like Sudoku which, like a Pilates machine, exercises my mind. Or, for something a bit more physical, playing with my two cats - who are know-it-alls in the Art of Play - is soothing, whilst allowing me to spend some time with them. Combining fun with effort - to my astonishment, intelligence is vital if you wish to win a football match - is still relaxing, except that you haven't quite switched off your instinct to achieve.
However, don't ask me what I achieve while mucking about with my cats - a bleeding scratch, perhaps?

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